After selecting Bill Laxton in 1970 Rule 5 Draft, the Padres sat on the dock for a decade before jumping back in with both feet. San Diego selected Mario Ramirez and Alan Wiggins in 1980, the first two of five Rule 5 picks the team made that decade. Clifton Wherry was next in 1981, followed by Bip Roberts in 1985 and Mike Dunne in 1989. Today I'll be focusing on the first of those players, but now you know who to expect to hear about in days to come.
Infielder Mario Ramirez was the third player selected in the 1980 Rule 5 Draft, taken one pick before young slugger George Bell went to Toronto and nine picks before San Diego took Wiggins in the twelfth slot. Ramirez was taken from the Mets organization, where he got into the first 18 major league games of his career earlier that year. He saw even less action in 1981, as the Padres worked out a deal with the Mets for his unrestricted rights so they could send him to the minors. Ramirez spent most of the season with AAA Hawaii and got a late season call-up to San Diego where he singled once in 13 at-bats in 13 games.
Ramirez got into 13 more games in 1982 with little success before getting into a career-high 55 in 1983. He hit below the Mendoza line for the third straight year but his glove still worked and that's what he was there for. The following season would be his first and only without spending any time in the minors. Despite his .119/ .278/ .237 slash line, he was included on the Padres' postseason roster. He was predictably hitless in 2 at-bats in the NLCS win over the Cubs.
His final season was 1985. Ramirez hit above .200 for the first time as a Padre, registering a nice-on-the-surface .283 in 60 at-bats. His trio of walks bumped his OBP up to .317, and his pair of homers (his only extra-base hits) gave him a .383 SLG. He was released the next spring and was out of affiliated ball after 16 games in AAA for the Twins in 1986. Ramirez retired with a .192/ .295/ .283 slash line in 333 plate appearances.
We all know that no Padre has hit for the cycle, but I found it fascinating that Mario Ramirez never even hit for the cycle in a season. It's also interesting how he reached a new hit milestone each year, in order. He singled for his only hit in 1981 and hit his first major league double in 1982. In 1983 he hit the only three triples of his career, and followed that up by homering for the first time in 1984.
Sadly, Ramirez will not be around to participate in celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of that first pennant-winning Padres team this upcoming season. He passed away in his Puerto Rico home this past February 22 after dealing with a number of health problems for quite some time. Ramirez may be gone but I'll do my part to ensure he is never forgotten; I suppose this handful of paragraphs was a good start.